By Caity Peterson
You're hungry for pizza. Walking around the neighborhood, you find two pizzerias not far from each other. They're both selling pretty much the same thing - crust with cheese and tomatoes on top - and at the same price. But one offers you a free delicious ice-cold 2-liter soda to go with your hawaiian. That makes your choice easy, no?
Believe it or not, something similar is happening in Uganda. Only we're not talking about pizza, and the choice is a bit more complicated.
The comestibles in question here are two of the country's most important agricultural commodities. One, coffee, makes up 20-30% of Uganda's foreign exchange earnings and creates a cash boom for smallholders once or twice a year. The other, banana, is the country's principle staple crop, providing a small, steady food harvest all year long. In fact, Uganda was the 2nd largest banana producer in the world in 2008, and the 11th largest coffee producer.
For bananas and plantains, climate change may significantly alter both yields as well as vulnerability to diseases, which would affect the food security and incomes of millions of Africans and Latin Americans. The East African Highland Banana, for example, is a starchy staple for 80 million people in Africa alone. Zoom in to see area harvested (2009) for the East Africa highland banana.
The research comes from new studies on "climate proofing" key crops across the tropics. The studies by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) highlight how climate change will impact crops that are critical to food security in the developing world, and what adaptation strategies can help reduce these impacts.
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)